Proud - and broke - at my daughter's graduation
In September, I attended the graduation ceremony of my daughter Amy in London, along with hundreds of other proud parents. It was held in a large marquee in a smart, central London square and was certainly a day to remember.
After the speech from the dean, a short film highlighting the university's achievements and an hour watching the graduands queue up for their moment of glory on stage, we were all invited for refreshments, where a band was playing, champagne and Pimm's were flowing and tray upon tray of canapés were served.
Now I don't want to seem penny-pinching as I did thoroughly enjoy seeing my daughter in her gown with mortar board perched precariously on her head but it's shocking how much parents have to pay for the whole graduation ceremony experience.
Three tickets to the event cost a whopping £210 – surprisingly, graduands have to pay for the privilege of attending their own
graduation ceremony. Hiring the gown and mortar board cost £43 – and that was just for a few hours' wear.
Before the ceremony, parents and offspring are encouraged to join the queue of people waiting for the official photograph, where they hold a rolled-up fake degree certificate tied with a ribbon. It's only when you get to the front of the queue do you find out what it costs – and, after all, you know that the official photo will be much better than any photo you would take. While you can buy two photos for around £70, you can have 10 for the bargain price of £87.50!
And if you have a daughter, then the true cost of the graduation ceremony actually starts weeks before the event. As all her friends were buying a new dress and shoes for the occasion, it would have been churlish to refuse a shopping spree, and then there was the hair-do on the day – essential to look fabulous for both official and Facebook photos.
But it doesn't end there. Seemingly, it's becoming more and more common to buy your child a gift for all the hard work that went into getting their degree. While some youngsters will be happy with a university mascot or framed certificate, it seems that others are receiving anything from designer handbags to jewellery.
Then there's the meal out at the end of the ceremony, which can set a family of four back £100-plus
Last but not least, if you're unlucky enough to live out of town, you'll have to pay for the rail fare or an overnight stay in a hotel, in which case the whole day could easily set you back £1,000.